Stop Cheating Timor Leste and Remember Their WW11 Sacrifice

Australia East Timor Friendship Association South Australia Inc



Since WW1, ANZAC Day has become an important day to Australians when we recognise those who died or suffered in the many wars in which Australia has participated. It is also a day when we remember those from other nations who fought alongside Australians.

WW2 is considered to be the great war against the tyranny of fascism and Nazism.

Australian soldiers fought in many theatres of this war alongside people from other nations in the struggle for freedom. One of those was the great struggle in 1942.against Japanese fascism in Portuguese Timor – now known as Timor-Leste.

“Sparrow Force”, a small force of only 400 Australian soldiers was sent to Timor several days after the bombing of Pearl Harbour to provide a defence should Japan invade. When it did, the Australians faced a superior force of 20,000. With the magnificent assistance of the East Timorese, the Australians fought using guerilla warfare tactics. During the fighting, the Japanese lost about 1000 soldiers and the Australians lost 40.

Following the withdrawal of the Australians after about a year of fighting, Japanese troops rounded up people from villages known to have helped the Australians and carried out mass executions of about 40,000 East Timorese .During WW2, the East Timorese lost approximately 70,000 people out of a population of 500,000. In comparison, Australia lost 40,000 loves out of 7 million.

Because of this great sacrifice, appreciative Australians who fought there dropped leaflets over Portuguese Timor which said “Your friends will not forget you!”

Imagine how these veterans felt in 1975 when the forces of the fascist Indonesian dictatorship led by General Suharto illegally invaded and occupied East Timor for 24 years with Australian government support? They were deeply ashamed at Australia’s betrayal of these people who had given them so much support and made huge sacrifices.

The Indonesian military (TNI) carried out a final orgy of killing and destruction following the 1999 UN supervised independence referendum. In response, the UN INTERFET peace force in which Australia played a dominant role intervened and the TNI troops were forced out of the country to the joy of the East Timorese and their Australian friends.

As a result of the 24 year occupation, almost a third of the population was wiped out, the East Timorese suffered genocide and sickening human rights abuses and 80% of their infrastructure was destroyed.

We now realise that the reason for the betrayal by our political leaders of the East Timorese was that they wanted to take much of their oil and gas from their 1/2 of the Timor Sea in collusion with oil companies.

Soon after independence in 2002, the leaders of Australia and Timor-Leste began negotiations over a maritime border and access to resources in the Timor Sea. Shamefully, our leaders sought to cheat the young nation of much of its resources by refusing to agree on a maritime border that conformed to the International Law of the Sea and they also tried to bully it into accepting a very unfair arrangement regarding the sharing of resources.

This behaviour also involved Australian security spying on the Timor-Leste give Australia an unfair advantage. However, Timor-Leste took Australia to the International Permanent Court of Arbitration when it realised that it had illegally spied against it In March 2018, the Court agreed and ruled that Australia had to conform to a border in the Timor Sea that conformed to the Law of the Sea and allow Timor-Leste to have the profits from its 1/2 of the Timor Sea and an agreement between the two nations recognising this was signed.

However,recently, it has been reported that Australia has yet to implement the agreement and is siphoning off millions of Timor-Leste’s oil revenue

Estimates suggest the revenue taken by Australia since the signing of the treaty now totals more than it has given to Timor-Leste in foreign aid, and more than Timor-Leste’s annjual expenditure on health. This is scandalous when it is also realised that the Timorese organisation La’o Hamutuk claims that Australia already owed Timor-Leste $4 billion for oil and gas taken from its 1/2 of the Timor Sea before the agreement was signed.

On ANZAC Day 2019, as we remember those who died in wars against tyranny – both Australians and its allies – we should also remember the suffering of our East Timorese brothers and sisters who live in the poorest nation in SE Asia.

This is a day that all fair-minded Australians salute the people of Timor-Leste and show them gratitude for their WW2 sacrifice for us. This should mean that we call on the Australian Government to apologise to them for Australia’s disgraceful betrayal of them since WW2 and as Jose Ramos Horta, the Nobel peace Laureate and former Timor-Leste PM and president said to pay them monies Australia has accrued from their resources.

As we are only weeks before a federal election, we should be encouraging fellow Australians to only vote for the candidates who are prepared to honour Australia’s debts to Timor-Leste and who will support the dropping of the charges against Witness K and Bernard Collaery.- two great Australians who helped Timor win justice and who could face imprisonment for undermining Australia’s security..


Andrew (Andy) Alcock

Information Officer


Phone: 61 8 83710480

0457 827 014



( AETFA SA was originally the Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA until Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002)

affiliated with the national Timor Sea Justice Campaign